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The Top Things to Do in Hastings for a Fun Weekend Break

a tulip garden with houses in the background

Nestled on the southern coast of England in East Sussex, Hastings is a historic town that blends stunning natural scenery, rich history, and vibrant cultural experiences.

Our favourite things to do in Hastings have to be wandering the Old Town with its twittens (a narrow path between walls, as it is called in Sussex), with Tudor houses and cottages and stroll down to the old quarter with its net huts on the beach.

Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient ruins, enjoying the seaside, or indulging in local arts and cuisine, Hastings provides a charming setting for a memorable weekend getaway.

10 Things to Do In Hastings UK

a blossom tree with graffiti on a wall behind it

This vibrant seaside town has a lot to offer, but I have narrowed it down to 10 top things to do which you can easily fit in on a weekend break.

1. Discover Hastings Castle and the 1066 Story

Begin your weekend with a trip to the iconic Hastings Castle. Overlooking the town from its cliff-top vantage point, this Norman castle is steeped in history. It was one of the first Norman castles built in England by William the Conqueror.

West Hill Cliff Railway
West Hill Cliff Railway

Depending on where you are staying, the walk up Castle Hill Road can be quite a trek, so one of the best ways to get there is to take the West Hill Cliff Railway, which is located on George Street.

Today, visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the famous Battle of Hastings in 1066 through engaging exhibits. The panoramic views of the English Channel from the castle grounds are simply breathtaking and provide excellent photo opportunities.

2. Smugglers Adventure

An 8-minute walk from the castle is Smugglers Adventure. Located in the historic St. Clements Caves, Smugglers Adventure in Hastings offers a fascinating journey into the past, exploring the town’s notorious history of smuggling.

This attraction is set within a series of natural caves and caverns that are thought to date back over 14,000 years. Visitors can delve into the lives of smugglers who once used these caves as hiding spots for contraband.

Through a series of interactive displays, atmospheric sound effects, and life-size figures, the exhibition brings to life the tales of smuggling on the Sussex coast. This educational and adventurous experience is suitable for all ages, providing both historical insights and engaging storytelling.

On your walk to Smuggler’s Adventure, you will pass through West Hill, which gives you wonderful views looking across Hastings Old Town towards East Hill and the sea.

3. Hastings Old Town

Hastings old town

The Old Town is a delightful maze of narrow streets and passageways, lined with antique shops, quaint cafes, and historic pubs. The architecture here ranges from medieval to Georgian, making it a fascinating area for a leisurely walk.

a narrow street with yellow house

There are many colourful buildings, Tudor homes and traditional Sussex cottages with flint-fronted exteriors. I could spend hours wandering the Twittens and back streets. It is a stunning example of an old Sussex fishing village, and easily transports you back in time.

AG Hendy & co home store front

If you visit any shop on your trip, you have to visit AG Hendy & Co Home Store. It was founded by chef, food writer and photographer, Alastair Hendy, who now offers cooking with fish, iPhone photography and styling tablescapes.

4. The Stade and Stade Beach

Hasting The Stade beach

The Stade is a historic area located in the heart of Old Town along the seafront. This unique part of the town is famous for being one of the oldest fishing and maritime districts in England, with a fishing fleet that has been based there for over a thousand years.

The term “Stade,” a Saxon word meaning “landing place,” reflects its long-standing maritime heritage.

The Stade Hastings

Stade Beach, situated adjacent to the fishing area, is a pebbly beach that offers picturesque views of the English Channel. Unlike typical sandy beaches, Stade Beach has a distinct charm with fishing boats scattered along the shore, contributing to its scenic and rugged coastal beauty.

shipwreck museum at hastings

The beach is also home to the Hastings Fishermen’s Museum and Shipwreck Museum. You will not fail to be impressed by the iconic black fishing net huts. These are tall, wooden sheds historically used by fishermen to store their gear, and are a highlight of The Stade.

inside a museum

Tours: Hastings: Quirky self-guided smartphone heritage walks

5. Rock-a-Nore Beach

rock-a-nore beach

Luckily, for us, every time we visit, it is a beautifully sunny day, and this beach is extremely popular! On the very tip of East Hastings, and where the road ends, Rock-a-Nore Beach nestles nicely under the cliffs.

The cliffs themselves are dotted with caves and if you’re lucky, you might even find a fossil or two.

6. East Hill Cliff Railway & Hastings Country Park

east hill lift in hastings

Located in the heart of the Stade is the East Hill Cliff Railway. You can experience a unique part of Hastings’ history by taking a ride, on the country’s steepest funicular railway.

This historic lift provides access to Hastings Country Park from the Old Town and offers spectacular views of the town and the surrounding natural beauty. On clear days, you will be able to see Beachy Head to Dungeness and if you’re lucky, Folkestone and the coast of France!

a waterfall
Gill Stream at Hastings Country Park. Image: Hastings.gov.uk

For nature lovers, Hastings Country Park is a must-visit. This expansive area of ancient woodland, heathland, and cliffs offers over 850 acres to explore. There are numerous trails suitable for all abilities, each providing spectacular views of the coast and countryside. It’s also a great spot for bird watching or a picnic.

The Bale House Visitor Centre is well worth a visit. Here you can find out about the heritage and landscape of Hastings Country Park, and stop for tea and cake at the cafe.

7. Take a Walk Along the Seafront

swan lake at hastings

Hastings is a typical English seaside town, where you will find plenty of fun activities and things for the kids to do. Our kids love this part of town, especially the amusements (my wallet might disagree!).

hastings miniature railway

If you start at The Stade, you can take the Hastings Miniature Railway (another activity that the kids, and the Big Kid – aka Mr B, also love). It stops off at various points along the seafront and ends at Swan Lake, where you will find pedal boats.

The seafront includes Flamingo Park, an amusement park and entertainment centre offering a range of rides for all the family including a rollercoaster and dodgems. However, the last time we visited, a lot of it was closed due to lack of staff! There is also Go-Karting and Miniature Golf.

8. Hastings Pier

Continuing your walk along the Seafront, you will finally end up at Hastings Pier. It is around a 25-minute walk from the Stade to the Pier, and although worth a visit, it is not really a destination in itself. However, it is the perfect place to watch the sunset after a busy day exploring the town.

It was originally opened in 1872 and has become tired and dated in recent years. However, it underwent an extensive restoration in 2016 and is now a modern, RIBA-award-winning pier. The open-plan Pier has the Pavilion Restaurant, beach hut-style food and drinks kiosks, rides for children, exhibitions and events throughout the year.

9. The Source

the source courtyard
Image: The Source

Maybe not somewhere you want to visit if you don’t have kids, The Source Park is the largest underground BMX and skatepark in the world! It is nestled under Hastings Promenade and was once home to Turkish Victorian Baths.

The skatepark attracts people from all over the World as well as beginners of all ages and abilities. Entry is free if you want to go and watch and the Park can be used by BMXers, Skateboarders and Scooter riders.

Prices range from £8 for 2 hours and it also houses a huge BMX/Skate shop. “The Courtyard” is worth a visit, with 4 bars and food stalls serving cocktails, coffee and chicken in a sunken courtyard right next to the beach.

10. Museums and Attractions

a fishing boat on a beach

If that is not enough to fill your weekend in Hastings, the beautiful thing about this seaside town is there are plenty of museums, architecture and attractions to visit. Some of the best include;

Hastings Contemporary – Art enthusiasts should make a point to visit the Hastings Contemporary, formerly known as the Jerwood Gallery. This modern art museum is situated right on the beach and features an impressive collection of contemporary British art. The gallery hosts a range of exhibitions, workshops, and talks.

Address: Rock-a-Nore Road, TN34 3DW

Hastings Aquarium – located along the picturesque seafront, the Aquarium offers visitors an immersive experience into the fascinating world of marine life. This family-friendly attraction showcases a diverse collection of aquatic species from local and tropical waters. Interactive displays and educational talks provide insights into the lives of creatures ranging from delicate seahorses and colourful coral fish to more imposing sharks and rays.

Address: Rock-a-Nore Rd, Hastings TN34 3DW

Shop at the Local Markets – If you’re visiting on a weekend, don’t miss the local farmers’ markets where you can pick up local produce, handmade crafts, and unique souvenirs. The markets are a great place to interact with locals and experience the town’s vibrant community spirit.

Address: Hastings Town Centre

Experience the Nightlife – As the sun sets, Hastings comes alive with its array of pubs, bars, and clubs. Whether you are looking for a quiet pub with live music or a bustling nightclub, Hastings has something to offer. The Marina Fountain and The Carlisle are notable spots for live music and a lively atmosphere.

Attend a Local Festival or Event – Depending on the time of year, Hastings hosts several festivals and events that can be a highlight of your visit. The Hastings Seafood and Wine Festival in September offers a chance to taste local delicacies, while the Jack in the Green Festival in May features traditional English parades and costumes.

The True Crime Museum – Maybe not for the fainthearted, the True Crime Museum showcases a world of serial killers, prisoners, gangsters, and other shady characters.

Address: Palace Court, White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JP

Hastings Museum and Art Gallery – located in the heart of the town, Hastings Museum offers an extensive array of exhibits that span local history, natural sciences, fine arts, and decorative arts.

The museum is renowned for its impressive collection of Native American artefacts, local historical relics from the Hastings area, and a captivating display of dinosaur fossils, which include a rare Iguanodon skeleton discovered nearby.

The art gallery section of the museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing both contemporary and traditional art.

Address: John’s Place, Bohemia Rd, Hastings TN34 1ET

Hastings Best Restaurants

George street in hastings

Hastings offers a delightful array of dining options that cater to a variety of tastes. Here are some of the best restaurants in Hastings:

  • Yaaze Bistro Cafe and Meze Bar – This cafe offers a Mediterranean menu with a focus on Turkish and Greek dishes. It’s known for its welcoming atmosphere and is a great spot for enjoying a variety of mezes.
  • Monellis – A popular Italian restaurant serving sourdough pizza, in a cosy setting, located in the heart of the Old Town
  • Maggie’s Fish & Chips – A traditional spot to enjoy British seafood, especially fish and chips. Maggie’s is located close to the seafront, it’s popular for its fresh, hearty servings.
  • Di Polas – This cafe is renowned for its delicious ice cream and also serves a range of cafe fare. It’s a local favourite for a casual meal or a sweet treat.
  • The Stag Inn – if you’re looking for a traditional seaside pub, the Stag Inn is a 16th-century Gastropub with a mouth-watering menu to choose from. They have a garden where they grow some of their own produce and a rich (and haunting) history.
  • Boulevard Bookshop and Thai Cafe – A unique combination of a bookshop and a Thai restaurant, offering a cosy atmosphere where you can enjoy authentic Thai cuisine among shelves of books.
  • St Clement’s Restaurant – Book early due to its huge popularity! Hastings-caught seafood sits on the menu alongside seasonal dishes in this bistro-style restaurant in St Leonards on Sea.
  • Undercliff House – Opposite the Aquarium, the Undercliff specialises in fish dishes with moules, seafood pasta and monkfish all highly rated.
  • Hanushka Coffee House – Situated on George Street, Hanuska is the perfect place to start your day with a good breakfast. It also holds seasonal events and live music.

Notable Shops in Hastings

shops in hastings

Hastings is the best place to head to if you love a bit of independent store shopping. George Street, Norman Road and Kings Road are the home to Butler’s Emporium, Reste, AG Hendy & Co Homestore, Warp & Weft, Up the Garden Path and Penbuckles Delicatessen to name but a few.

up the garden path in hastings

I thoroughly enjoy heading into the Antique and thrift stores whilst I’m in Hastings Old Town. That is a day out in itself!

Best Places to Stay in Hastings

an old tudor house in hastings

Although we have never stayed in Hastings itself, being only an hour’s drive away, Hastings is not short on Hotels, Airbnb and quirky B&Bs. Some notable and popular places to stay in Hastings include;

  • Black Rock House: A Victorian villa with sea views. It is a 5-star boutique B&B with individually designed rooms and breakfast.
  • Anne’s House: Noted for its exceptional breakfast and only 700m away from the beach, this is the perfect base for your weekend in Hastings.
  • The Laindons Boutique Bed and Breakfast: Georgian, Grade II-listed building located on the High Street in Hastings’ old town.
  • Zanzibar: With an exceptional rating on booking.com, Zanzibar is a bit further out in St Leonard on Sea, it is a self-catered holiday home with a large hot tub.
ye olde pump house in hastings

From historical sites and cultural museums to beautiful parks and vibrant nightlife, there’s something for everyone in this charming coastal town. So pack your bags and set off for a fun-filled weekend in Hastings, where adventure and relaxation await.

the top things to do in hastings pinterest pin

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